How England’s Classic Motor Hub Is Perfecting The Cars & Coffee Formula
Photography by Will Broadhead
All hail the arrival of spring and the first glimmers of an approaching summer. After a long and bleak winter, for those of us in the northern hemisphere at least, the first flickers of a warm day bring us out of the cold-and-wet-induced slumbers and out to our workshops and garages. The metallic sounds of spanners echo in the garage as we did through the tools needed to wake our cars and bikes for the first runs of the year, starter motors whir and relays click and if we are really lucky, engines fire into life on the first turn or kick. In a ritual that is replicated across continents, enthusiasts and owners alike flock to the first outdoor meets of the season—for many, it’s one of the the ubiquitous “Cars & Coffee” meets. Ah yes, a bunch of car guys stand in a lot or in a field, drinking sub-standard coffee whilst long-suffering wives and girlfriends look on with perfected boredom. Drive, meet, go home, and repeat.
Ok, so that was a slightly stereotypical and perhaps cynical view on it, and it’s not that I don’t enjoy meeting up with like-minded people. It’s just that, well, they can all become a bit of a clone of one another can’t they? And the hackneyed format has a habit of soaking up that spring-induced enthusiasm and replacing it with stale lethargy. Thankfully though, not all of these meets were created equal, and my destination of choice for the first such event of my season, the Classic Motor Hub in Bibury, Gloucestershire, managed to surpass my already high expectations for the venue.
Unfortunately, spring has seemed somewhat far away in the UK this year, and with more snow over the past month than has been seen for years, the winter cold and precipitation more than outstaying their welcome by now, the chances of a fine, sunny day at the Hub were looking slim. The day prior had been spent paddling through the floods at Oulton Park and as such I was not optimistic. But somewhat miraculously, I awoke to sunshine and double-digit temperatures on the morning of the meet, and had I not of been driving, I’m sure I would have skipped to Bibury. I arrived shortly before gates opened to one of the most wonderful queues I have ever been in; it’s not so bad when you’ve a Ferrari to the front and a Riley sat behind you, and it seemed everyone who had signed up to this meeting was determined to make the best of the turn in the weather.
Once inside the glorious sight of well over a hundred classic and exotic sports cars greeted my eyes, offerings from Porsche, Mercedes, and Ferrari were littered around the grounds. There were loudly-painted American muscle cars on show, as well as trucks, hot rods, and the aforementioned teeny-tiny Riley, not forgetting the typical Triumphs, MGs, and Jags. The standard was high, and it appeared that of the 250 slots allocated to the enthusiasts who had signed up, most had attended in something you could call classic.
Of course, this may be a reflection on the Hub itself, which, along with Cotswold Collector Cars who also reside on the site, carries a fabulous and ever-evolving collection of cars that would easily tick off many of our dream garage choices in full. All of these are on view to those gathered on the day of, including the private collections housed at the Hub, so even if you hadn’t managed to find something you liked in the car park (and I very much doubt that would have been the case), there were a great many machines and curios to entertain within the walls of the hangers. It doesn’t stop there either, with fabulous food offerings to satisfy anyone’s palate, locally sourced bacon in brioche buns anyone? With proper coffee as well! All for much less than I’ve paid for a rat burger and greasy chips at many of the other events I’ve attended in the past.
With such immense machines already curated at the Hub, complemented by the wonderful cars of those attending in a relaxed and wonderfully friendly environment, this is more than just a parking lot full of cars. By controlling the numbers that can attend, space isn’t at a premium during the morning rush and the atmosphere and intimacy of a small meeting is retained, but with the magic and exclusivity of being surrounded by millions of pounds worth of cars and bikes, with top notch trimmings. That’s a pretty special trick to pull off, and if you haven’t made it one of these already, I would urge you to box out the first Sunday of the month and sign up. But be quick though, there’s already a waiting list…